Towards the end of the reign of the Chongzhen Emperor of the Ming dynasty, internal turmoil and external threats abound. Princess Changping, arrogant and proud of her talent, has not yet found herself an acceptable husband.? Minister Zhou Zhong introduces Shixian to the princess. Being able to move the princess's heart with his eloquence and earnestness, Shixian gains the emperor's permission for marrying the princess. However, the capital falls to the rebels before their wedding day. Fearing the fate of his harem, the emperor puts his wives to death and injures Changping with his sword. Zhou Zhong rescues Changpingand she recovers under his care. However, Zhou Zhong and his son Bao Lun plot to turn the princess over to the emperor of the Qing dynasty in exchange for official rank and wealth.
Knowing the plot, the daughter of Zhou Zhong helps move Changping to Weimo Nunnery to live in seclusion. A year later, Shixian comes across the princess outside the nunnery, but the princess now turned nun refrains from admitting to their acquaintance until Shixian threatens suicide. Shixian suggests a feigned surrender to the Qing emperor. In tears, the princess writes a letter to the Qing emperor, asking him to give her father Chongzhen Emperor a decent burial and releases her brother, the crown prince.
The Qing emperor is compelled to keep his promise in order to pacify the ministers of the former dynasty. Finally, the princess and Shixian perform the wedding ritual beside a camphor tree. Then, they both take poison and die for their country. Choral music is heard from heaven, to which the mystical couple returns. Overwhelmed by shame, Zhou Zhong and Bao Lun ask for permission to resign and return to their hometown.